I’ll never call it ‘flyover country’ again…

I’m back from the COIN symposium and I will discuss that at length in upcoming posts but before I get into that let me wrap up with my impressions of my time outside of the lecture hall and in the greater Ft. Leavenworth area.

I’ll admit I had a lot of preconceived notions of what to expect from a few days in KansasDry, flat, brown and boring was what I was expecting.  So, I was totally blown away.  It was green!  It was hilly (well, sort of).  And, it was a lot of fun.  So, allow me to recommend some places I went to while in the area:

St. George Hotel.  Weston, Mo. (pop. 1650) is a great little town that’s a popular destination for weekenders and the St. George is the town’s hotel is a great place to stay (I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the knucklehead who recommended I stay at places like the Super 8 or other chain hotels that were both more expensive AND had reviews which included reports on the insect life guests found while there and lackluster service.  For an extra five or so minutes commute time I got a suite in a mid-19th century hotel with great atmosphere, a super friendly staff and the place had a really nice bar that I, unfortunately, didn’t get to experience since I wasn’t there over the weekend.

Weston Brewing Co.  They’ve been brewing their own selection of beer for about 5 years now and they’ve got some good product.  They’ve got the usual selection of ales and such as well as a jalapeno pepper beer which they make work (somehow) and would be really brilliant with Mexican food.  The building is six stories of which five are underground in the form of two former stoarge cellars which have been converted to pubs.  Food is Irish themed and the Fish and Chips were quite good.

Pirtle Winery.  Wine in Missouri?  What are you kidding me?  Who knew the area had a ‘wine country’?  Their stuff isn’t going to knock France or California off the charts but their stuff is pretty good for a fledgling winery.  They don’t focus on sweet wines which I’m under the impression newer wineries tend to produce becuase it’s easier and so you can drink their stuff without thinking you’re sipping spiked grape juice.  It also means that their fruit wines (cherry, blueberry, etc.) are among the best I’ve had and are actually drinkable.  I picked up a bottle of their chocolate infused cherry wine and a bottle of blackberry mead which were worth the trouble of packing into my bag and the risk of broken bottles.

The Vinyards Restaurant.  Right across the street from Pirle Winery.  The Mayer sisters put together a great menu of fresh, local ingredients.  Products they can’t get locally (like seafood) they get from fresh from responsible producers.  They can tell you where everything on your dish came from and offer to make meals which are vegitarian, vegan and gluten free upon request.

Avalon Cafe.  Another great restaurant with very good food.

Oh…and all this stuff is within walking distance of each other.

JW Crancer’s.  (530 Delaware St, Leavenworth, KS).  Kansas (or maybe just Leavenworth) apparenlty has some funky laws about drinking.  You can’t have a bar but you can have a private drinking club.  I don’t get it but this place is amazingly, freaking cool.  Dark wood, big open spaces, couches and nice chairs, live jazz.

Finally, I don’t know what they put in the water there but everyone we met was seriously nice.  Like creepy nice.  Like we expected them to turn into bloodthirsty crazies at midnight or find out they were all secretly part of some satanic cult who sacrificed visitors if they let their guard down.  We’d stop and ask somebody for directions or information and on several occasions they’d later hunt us down expand upon what they said or give us information they thought we could also use.  Who does that?  I think I’d move there if I didn’t think my East Coast customs would infect the whole area like some sort of crop blight.

Now I need to find an excuse to get back to the area…

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2 responses to “I’ll never call it ‘flyover country’ again…

  1. Leavenworth is green because it’s next to a river. It is the exception, not the rule, to Kansas terrain. Having said that, yeah, it’s a pretty nice place, within driving distance of the Big City of Kansas City, so not a bad place to have a conference or go for education. I’ve heard the standard of living is a little low, certainly the average salaries are not East Coast. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind working out there at the Schoolhouse.

  2. As a native Missourian who has spent most of his adult life in the East, returning only to visit relatives, I really enjoyed this post and it’s acknowledgment of the area. As I have traveled around the country, I have been extremely impressed with how many places are pleasant, interesting surprises. I have many good memories of many “remote” places in this large land.

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